Late Home Run Spoils Baseball Home Opener against Michigan State
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNCG baseball gave up a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning to fall to the Michigan State Spartans, 5-4 in UNCG’s home opener Friday night. The Blue and Gold rallied from deficits twice in the contest, but could not plate a run in the game’s final frame. UNCG falls to 1-4 overall, while Michigan State improves to 5-0.
“We didn’t pitch our fastball well enough and they had a lot of extra base hits tonight.” Head coach Link Jarrett said, “For Wantz to come in and pitch as well as he did, have that happen late on one fastball mistake, that’s tough. We had some key hits to battle back into that, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t think our at bats were good enough against a very good baseball team to give us a chance to get ahead and bust that thing open a little bit. They pitched great. Their starter pitched great, the guys they brought in out of the bullpen threw really well. They are a very experienced team.”
“I was really proud of Wantz to come in out of the bullpen and strikeout eight batters in five innings.” Jarrett continued, “He pitched us out of a jam and got us to the finish line but we didn’t do enough to get over the hump tonight. (Ben) Spitznagel had a big at bat, (Andrew) Moritz had a big at bat to bring in the tying run. Austin (Embler) had a big 0-2 bunt to help set up our inning in the second. We had some bright spots. Michigan State is a very good team, and the next two games will be challenging on both ends. The guys need to remember the execution and focus from the first pitch to the last pitch is the difference in games when they’re played at this high of a level.”
Jack Maynard (Crozet, Va./Patrick Henry CC) started on the hill for UNCG. Maynard logged 4-plus innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. Andrew Wantz (Holly Springs, N.C./Holly Springs) came on in relief, tossing the final 5.0 innings. The junior surrendered just two hits, struck out eight hitters but gave up a solo home run in the eighth inning.
The Blue and Gold offense earned nine hits in the home opener. Ben Spitznagel (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wabash Valley CC) and Andrew Moritz (Charlotte, N.C./Providence) led the way with two hits each. Spitznagel drove in a pair and notched his first triple of the season.
MSU wasted no time getting the scoring started. Michigan State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Dan Durkin singled up the middle and advanced to third on a Marty Bechina ground-rule double. Durkin later scored on a Zach McGuire ground out.
Michigan State scored another solo run in the top of the second thanks to an RBI fielder’s choice from Danny Gleaves.
The Blue and Gold were able to plate a pair to tie the game up at two in the bottom of the second inning. Ryne Sigmon (Danville, Va./Danville CC) and Jake Kusz (Durham, N.C./Riverside) singled to start the inning and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Austin Embler (Southern Pines, N.C./Pinecrest) Cesar Trejo (Greensboro, N.C./Ragsdale) and Spitznagel each used productive groundouts to score the two UNCG runs.
MSU regained its lead in the top of the fifth inning, plating a pair of runs on a Bechina single up the middle.
The Blue and Gold erased the two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning. Trejo walked and came around to score on a Spitznagel triple. Moritz singled to right field to bring in Spitznagel and tie the game up at four.
Michigan State took a 5-4 lead when Royce Ando connected for his first home run of the season to give MSU the lead.
UNCG and MSU are back in action tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 for the second matchup between the Spartans.